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A Glimpse into the Life of Roberto Clemente and his time in Fort Myers

Roberto Clemente as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1965.
Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Roberto Clemente as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1965.

Legendary Puerto Rican baseball hall of fame outfielder Roberto Clemente joined the Major Leagues in 1955. That was eight years after Jackie Robinson became the first Black player in the history of the league, and nine years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. For the first thirteen years of his career the Pirates spring trained at Terry Park in Fort Myers — this was during the time of Jim Crow.

He spent all 18 years of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. During that stretch Clemente was a two-time World Series champion, 12-time Gold Glove Award winner, and 15-time All-Star. He was the first player from Latin America inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Roberto Clemente died on December 31, 1972, in a plane crash while departing Puerto Rico to deliver help to earthquake devastated Nicaragua.

September 15th was Roberto Clemente Day, coinciding with the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, so we talk about the life and legacy of Roberto Clemente, and what life was like for him in Fort Myers.


  • Glenn Miller is a journalist and instructor in the journalism program at Florida Gulf Coast University, and past president of the Southwest Florida Historical Society.
  • Woody Hansen is a Fort Myers native and local historian who was a clubhouse boy for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1965-68.